Tunisia has developed an original diplomatic approach to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Relations between Tunisia and Israel (and more generally between Israel and the Arab world) have also influenced internal relations within Tunisia and the reactions and decisions of its Jewish community. This paper describes the evolution of the Tunisian government’s attitudes towards Israel and the Palestinian issue in the post-independence era until the approval of the new Tunisian Constitution in 2014. The debate over whether to include an article regarding ‘the criminalisation of normalisation with Israel’ in the recently approved Constitution was considerable. Issues related to Israel have thus gained prominence in national debate, following a period in which they were primarily discussed by Ben Ali’s political opponents. Through an analysis of articles, books, Internet sources and presidential speeches, this article examines the different positions taken by Tunisia towards Israel and how they have evolved over time.
When it was inaugurated in 1995, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership presented a vision of political cooperation, economic development, and cultural understanding between Europe, Arab countries, and Israel. The atmosphere was one of relative optimism, both in Europe and the Middle East. Ten years later, the regional approach took a back seat and the main emphasis was placed on a more bilateral framework, with the introduction of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). Following the big wave of European Union enlargement, the gravitational force pulling neighboring countries to the EU was at its peak. The objective was to extend the zone of peace and prosperity beyond its enlarged borders.
Today, at the beginning of 2016, this vision seems to be a faraway dream. In the Middle East and North Africa, the upheavals in Arab countries have brought about growing instability and bloodshed. This situation presents important humanitarian challenges, including major refugee flows within the region and into Europe. Terrorist organizations are exploiting the current situation to spread hatred and commit acts of violence.
In view of this dramatic, unsettling reality, there is a clear need to examine the flaws in the implementation of the ENP and to rethink its most basic elements. A new strategy should include effective tools with which to solidify meaningful cooperation between like-minded countries.
Zisser, Eyal. “Israel and the Arab Spring: An Involved Observer from the Sidelines.” In Comparative Political and Economic Perspectives on the MENA Region (ed. M. Mustafa Erdoğdu and Bryan Christiansen; Hershey, PA: IGI GLobal, 2016): 59-74.
In the middle of the winter of 2010 the “Spring of the Arab Nations,” suddenly erupted without any warning all over the Middle East. However, the momentum of the uprisings was impeded rather quickly, and the hopes held out for the “Spring of the Arab Nations” turned into frustration and disappointment. While many Israelis were focusing their attention in surprise, and some, without a doubt, with concern as well, on what was happening in the region around them, suddenly, in Israel itself, at the height of the steamy summer of 2011, an “Israeli Spring” broke out. The Protesters were young Israelis belonging to the Israeli middle class. Their demands revolved around the slogan, “Let us live in our land.” However, similar to what happened in the Arab world, the Israeli protest subsided little by little. The hassles of daily life and security and foreign affairs concerns once more became the focus of the public’s attention. And so the protesters’ hopes were disappointed, and Israel’s political, economic, and social order remained unshaken.
This article analyses Israel’s foreign policy response to the ‘Arab Spring’ in comparative perspective. Following the analytical framework shared by all contributions to this Special Issue, the article addresses four main dimensions in as many parts. Part I examines Israel’s initial reactions to the advent of the popular upheavals and regime changes in the Arab world in 2011–2014 and explores how those reactions have evolved over time. Part II identifies Israel’s main policy objectives in relation to events in the region and particularly its immediate neighbours: Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Part III examines the instruments which Israel has used, and eschewed, in pursuit of its policy objectives. Finally, part IV undertakes a theoretically informed analysis with the aim of explaining Israel’s distinctive strategic posture and policy responses to the events of the ‘Arab Spring’ thus far.
Since 1993 the international community has invested more than $24 billion in ‘peace and development’ in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). That aid was meant originally to support the Oslo Peace Process through economic development. However, neither peace nor development has been realized, and both seem increasingly unlikely. While examining donor operations, priorities and the ‘aid-for-peace’ agenda, this article investigates whether patterns in oPt donor aid have changed following the Arab uprisings of 2011. Building on 28 original interviews with Palestine aid actors, it was found that patterns remain unchanged and that donors remain transfixed on a long failed ‘Investment in Peace’ framework that was designed for economic development by the World Bank back in 1993. By comparing these research findings with the literature on aid to Palestine, this article argues that donors are not ready to alter a framework dominated by policy instrumentalists who emphasize pre-determined normative values over actual results, quietly trading financial inducements to Palestinians to forgo political rights within a ‘peace dividends’ model. Meanwhile, critics of the existing aid framework remain largely ignored and have little influence on aid policy, in spite of two decades of instrumentalist failure to produce peace or economic growth using the existing model.
The popular uprising that started in Tunisia in December 2010 quickly spread across the Arab world, culminating in a historic regional realignment with far-reaching implications. This essay details the implications of the Arab Spring for Israeli security. After highlighting the history of Israel’s defense strategy and reviewing the Arab Spring revolts, the authors find that the recent uprisings exacerbate several issues faced by Israel, including geopolitical relations with other countries in the region, energy issues, and growing threats presented by nonstate actors.
This article addresses an aspect of Egypt’s 2011 revolution almost entirely ignored in most Western media accounts: Israel and Palestine as prominent themes of protest. In reviewing Egyptian mobilization opposing normalization nad in support of the Palestinian cause starting from Sadat’s peace initiative of the mid-1970s, the author shows how the anti-Mubarak movement that took off as of the mid-2000s built on the Palestine activism and networks already in place. While the trigger of the revolution and the focus of its first eighteen days was domestic change, the article shows how domestic and foreign policy issues (especially Israel and Palestine) were inextricably intertwined, with the leadership bodies of the revolution involved in both.
The Arab Spring is one of the most complex and surprising political developments of the new century, especially after a decade of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab western propaganda. While is too early to properly evaluate the process and its various national apparitions, it is important to see it in a historical context. This article places the Arab Spring firmly within the history of pan Arabism, and the threat it posed to the west and Israel in its earlier, Nasserist phase. The work of Amin, Marfleet and others, is used to frame the current developments, and present the limited view offered from an Israeli perspective, where any democratisation of the Arab world is seen as a threat. This is so despite the obvious influence the Arab Spring had on protest in Israel in Summer 1011, a protest which has now seemingly spent itself; it is fascinating to note that the only protest movement in the Middle East not involving violent clashes with the regime it criticised, is also the one which has not achieved any of its aims.
Efraim Inbar is a professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and the director of its Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. His area of specialization is Middle Eastern strategic issues with a special interest in the politics and strategy of Israeli national security. Prof. Inbar has written over 60 articles in professional journals. He has published several books, including Outcast Countries in the World Community (1985), War and Peace in Israeli Politics. Labor Party Positions on National Security (1991), Rabin and Israel’s National Security (1999), The Israeli-Turkish Entente (2001), and Israel’s National Security: Issues and Challenges since the Yom Kippur War (2008).
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